Anvil - Back To Basics
Massacre Records
Heavy Metal
10 songs (43:16)
Release year: 2004
Anvil, Massacre Records
Reviewed by Mike

Although never at the forefront of the metal scene, Canadian metal act Anvil has been around for quite some time. Ever since 1981, this band has been steadily kicking out good to very good albums of classic heavy metal. Common sense would dictate that a band doesn't stick around for 20+ years, still selling records if they aren't doing something right. I can't say that these guys have ever blown me away with an absolute must have metal classic album, but they have released some quality material over the past 2+ decades.

Unlike a fine wine, Back To Basics indicates to me that Anvil is not getting better with age. First of all, I am puzzled trying to figure out what happened to lead vocalist / guitarist Lips. Throughout the entire album, he is chronically out of tune. Furthermore, he struggles mightily to hit the high notes, which are clearly out of his range at this point in his career. To say that the vocals sound like demo quality would not be an understatement. This is too bad, because the guy has demonstrated in the past that he is capable of much better quality than this. Now, I am also disappointed (although not so much as with the vocals) with the production. The production is very thin and is anything but tight and crisp. The overall sound of the music is much closer to demo quality than what I would expect from this band, especially when the awful vocal performance is factored in. On a positive note, there are a few riffs and solos that managed to get my neck moving at scattered times throughout the album. Unfortunately, the songs themselves sound like a second rate rehash (and slightly slowed down) of the band's previous work. I can't escape the feeling that the band is tired and simply lacked the creative juices while writing this album. The Chainsaw has a much too distinct Judas Priest flavor, Ram It Down springs to mind instantly. Cruel World is one of the weakest (as weak as it is long), if not weakest Anvil tracks I've ever heard. At any rate, the vocal delivery in that song is a cruel punishment for your fans to say the least. None of the songs are delivered with any urgency whatsoever, with the slim exception of some guitar solos. Even the drum work seems to have been watered down to mostly basic beats and filler that bog down the impact of the music. At the end of the album, I can't say that any of these songs have managed to stick with me. In fact, it's hard to name a single song that wasn't actually boring. The vocals make it very hard to get through album, and the production job is unacceptable by today's standards to put it nicely. A few good solos here and there are not enough to save this album. With song structures that don't even shake a stick at the band's earlier material, it's hard to recommend this album even to fans of the band who insist upon owning each and every album.

For a band that has persevered for 25 years to release album after album of classic heavy metal, I hate to give such a low quote. However, it would not be right for me to simply applaud the band's courage to stick with their trademark sound over the years and dish out an inaccurate high score based upon that. I can allow even my favorite bands a bad apple or two in their catalogue. Having said that, I will just brush this album under the rug and remember the many quality albums that Anvil has supplied the metal scene over the years. Stick with the band's earlier works, skip this release and rest assured that you have missed nothing.

Killing Songs :
See back catalogue.....
Mike quoted 35 / 100
Other albums by Anvil that we have reviewed:
Anvil - Still Going Strong reviewed by Mike and quoted 86 / 100
Anvil - Plenty Of Power reviewed by Danny and quoted 60 / 100
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